Lawmaker pleads for state to fix canals and avoid a global food crisis

Invariably, Sen. John Laird of Santa Cruz, who served as Natural Resources secretary during the Brown administration and now chairs the Natural Resources and Water Committee, where the bill was heard, said that California has held to a historic beneficiary pays policy.

“The water project itself was 97% paid for by the water users and 3% by the state taxpayers,” he said. “This is a logical thing for the users to pay.”

Laird reasoned the fact that the canals serve drinking water to 31 million people and irrigation water to three million acres of farmland meant the costs could be spread broadly, making it more affordable. As with previous opponents of Hurtado’s bills, Laird argued state money should not go to a federal project unless all Californians benefit, including the farmers in his district who do not import water.

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